Working from home safely and securely

visualisation of a padlock and IT

As many of us are now working from home, we must make sure that we can work remotely in a way that is safe and secure. Find out how to protect yourself, your account and information, and how to access support when working remotely.

Protect yourself

We are seeing a rise in sophisticated attacks targeting the higher education sector, playing on the fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. One of our most important defences against attacks is ensuring we all have the skills and awareness to work safely.

In addition to the mandatory training, we now offer a short course on cyber safety that is regularly updated to include information about current threats and provides advice on how to stay safe from attackers.

We strongly recommend you take this course.

Protect information

When working from home it may be tempting to save work onto your home computer. This puts that information at increased risk of malicious attack or accidental loss. University-provided IT systems and storage are all available remotely.

You should:

  • Continue to work within University IT systems wherever possible. Do not be tempted to download information out of sensitive University systems for convenience.
  • Save your important work to University network storage or Google Drive.
  • If you really must save work locally then ensure your computer is encrypted

Read more about protecting information whilst working remotely

Protect your account

Your account is the key to your computer, your information and any University systems you have access to.

  • Enrol in multi-factor authentication (MFA) - this provides excellent protection against attackers and we will be mandating it for all staff accounts.
  • Set a strong password
  • Secure that password - do not write it down and do not share it; consider using a password manager

You can enrol in MFA and change your password, ideally in that order, via ‘Account Settings’ in MUSE.

Find out more about multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Advice on setting a secure password

Protect your computer

When you’re on campus using a computer managed by the University we can take care of many of the essential security measures on your behalf. When you’re using a computer at home then you must ensure it has the correct security in place.

  • Is it up to date? This is the most important safeguard and should be prioritised
  • Are you using an account not shared with anyone else?
  • Is it encrypted if saving University work?
  • Is anti-virus software installed, up to date and running?
  • Is the firewall turned on?

The Information Security webpages provide further guidance.

Using third-party tools

If you are using a tool that is not provided by the University then you are responsible for ensuring it meets security standards and complies with data protection law. Wherever possible use one of the services already provided by the University.

The IT Service Desk can advise further if required.

Using Zoom for University business

Zoom is an online virtual meeting and collaboration platform whose popularity has increased very rapidly as an easy to use tool to support remote working.

At present Zoom has not been proven to meet the University’s information security standards or comply with GDPR/DPA2018.

If you are using Zoom to support University business activities then you should stop doing so and use one of the alternative solutions provided by the University.

Further guidance and Zoom alternatives 

Support available

We’re endeavouring to provide as much support as possible so that all of our staff can continue to work remotely in a way that is safe and secure.

The Cyber Security Programme is a major project that will address critical cyber security risks facing the University.

The Programme was temporarily scaled back in March in response to the pandemic but will be restarting with a priority on supporting safe and secure remote working. In the coming weeks we will be sharing a self-service security health check that will guide you through each of the above measures alongside an option to request remote assistance if you encounter difficulties. We will be in touch when this service is available.

If you have any questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact the IT Service Desk. You can also email either dataprotection@sheffield.ac.uk or info-security@sheffield.ac.uk